Saturday, June 18, 2005
voices ring the halls
WIL WHEATON dot NET: "This may seem like stupid semantics on my part, but actors are so often misrepresented in the press, I feel it's important to set the record straight here. Residual payments are not profit-sharing. Residual payments are reuse fees that producers pay to actors when they've re-used the actor's performance a certain number of times.

For example, when an actor works on a TV show (commercials are a much more complicated beast, so I'll stick with TV for this example) the initial fee that actor earns usually includes one or two re-airings by the producer. If the producer chooses to run the show again, a cycle begins, where the producer pays the actor a residual, or re-use fee, that slowly diminishes over time. The logic behind this is that if producers are re-running an old show, rather than creating a new one, actors have fewer opportunities to work. Also, if a show is re-run very often, the producer will continue to profit from advertising sales, while the actor gets over-exposed as one character, which can severely hurt that actor's chances of being hired in different roles. I suppose one could make the argument that, in that case, it is profit-sharing, but I think that's largely semantic as well. The point is, producers and actors have had this residual payment agreement for my entire career, and it's not exactly a controversial issue.

Profit-sharing, on the other hand, is entirely different from residual payment. True profit-sharing, which is usually a percentage based on the amount of money a film earns, isn't addressed by SAG contracts, which only set minimum wages and working conditions for actors. Profit-sharing has to be negotiated, and the only actors who can grab that brass ring are superstars like Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts."

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